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Language & Linguistics

Limits of Language

is known by the wise knowers of the Vedas to be made up of four parts. Three of these – Para, the Shabda-Brahman; Pasyanti, unformed language; and Madhyama, mental language – lie unmanifested in the depths of one’s being. It is only the fourth that people speak.     - Rig Veda, 1.164.45

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Philosophy of Language in the Vaiyakarana Tradition

The Indian conception of language differs in three ways from the Western: Language is speech, not writing (script); Language is a cognitive system (not, primarily, a means of communication); and  Language is a constructivist system (not a representational one).

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Language : The Vibration of Consciousness

Bhartṛhari propounds a cosmological thesis. The whole universe (or we should say the linguistic universe), consisting of two different types of things, the vācyas, bits and pieces of the constructed world to which language refers, and the linguistic expressions, the vācaka (signifier), has evolved out of one principle called the Word-Essence, śabda-tattva, the Eternal Verbum, śabda-brahman, the ever-exceeding consciousness of the sentient. We may discount this point as a theological or metaphysical bias, but there may be an important truth implicit in it here. Our perceived world is also an interpreted world. And this interpretation is invariably in terms of some language or other. Interpretation is ‘languageing’. Bhartṛhari believes that both language and the ‘world’ it purports to refer to (and this ‘world’ by his own explicit admission may or may not coincide with the external, actual world) form an indivisible, unitary whole.

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The Language of the Indian Mystics

There are several ways by which our mystic-authors may (and actually do) present the so-called ineffable. I can identify at least three broad ways by which they accomplish it. This does not mean, however, that the mystics have been lying or deceiving themselves when they have been claiming IME. I take the IME Ineffability of Mystical Experience doctrine to be a warning signal to the readers (or hearers) to alert them against a facile understanding (a misunderstanding) of what the mystics say, such an understanding being based upon a too literal interpretation of their words. The words of the mystics are generated by a flash of inspiration and a similar sympathetic feeling may be needed in order to fully grasp their message.

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The Hard Problem of Consciousness and Multi-valued Logic

In this fourth part of the ongoing series on Multivalued logic, Aniruddha Singhal discusses many disciplines of science and mathematics and tells us that the same problem which is encountered by bivalued logic in describing the world is encountered by many disciplines. He also discusses the hard problem of consciousness which debates over which came first, matter or consciousness. Singhal proposes that looking at the problem from multivalued logic may solve the problem.

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How Paradoxes Result from a Bi-valued System of Logic

In this third installment of the series on differences between bi-valued logic and multi-valued logic, Aniruddha Singhal in this piece describes how all the paradoxes of science today, like the paradox of Shroedinger's cat, can be resolved if they are seen in the framework of multi-valued system of logic, rather than the bi-valued system of logic. The author forcefully argues that the paradoxes do not represent a fault in reality, but a fault in human understanding. That is what we have to correct.

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Unity or Plurality: A Linguistic Perspective – 3

In this concluding part, Shri Gaurinath Shastri tells us what is the role of intuition in learning and expression. The poet’s vision is called pratibha, which has been described by Jagannatha as the spontaneous, immediate and unpremeditated presentation of appropriate thought and diction which give the utterances of the poet the distinctive stamp of aesthetic pre-eminence.

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Unity or Plurality: A Linguistic Perspective – 2

In this beautiful piece, author and great grammarian Shri Gaurinath Shastri explains that though the words do have individual meanings, in plurality they are incapable of conveying the complete meaning. a grammarian tries to drive home the point that the meaning is great than the sum of its parts and lies somewhere in the unity that is represented on one level by the grammatical structure.

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Vedantic or Trivalued System of Logic

This paper, the second in the series of articles on different systems of logic focuses on the Vedantic tri-valued system of logic and contrasts it to the western logic system. On the contrary eastern thought is embedded in trivalued frame of thought that is True, False and Mithya. The western logic system has binary mode of operation. There is no state in between two extremes.

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Unity or Plurality: A Linguistic Perspective – 1

In this serious investigation into Word and Consciousness, Shri Gaurinath Shastri delves into grammar and logic to explore the phenomena of unity and plurality. In this piece, he tries to answer the question of what comes first, unity or plurality.

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